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The Malay Mail
By Amir Hafizi

Gamarjobat is one of the funniest shows of the year.

Public service announcement: never come late for any Japanese mime shows. They would take you to task for it. You don't want to mess with mime artistes. They're dangerous.

Gamarjobat, a Japanese mime group who is performing at The Actors Studio Bangsar, made examples of tardy audience members in their show. They would imitate football referees by whipping out a whistle and flashing a yellow card for late-comers. A red one if they did two or more ‘offences'. Deservingly so, really, considering how lax Malaysians are when it comes to keeping appointments.

Still, it was all in good fun. And the Gamarjobat duo, Hiropon and Ketch, have a lot more in their bag of tricks. The two went crazy in the first half of the show, coming out with a suitcase full of gags and tools for a rapid-fire mime performance. They switched from using floating apples to oversized body parts in a blistering pace, demonstrating the skills they learned on the streets of Europe, Asia and Australia.

Hiropon and Ketch also interacted heavily with the audience. It was quite a challenge, since the typical Malaysian audience would sooner down into their comfortable chairs rather than draw attention to themselves. However, Gamarjobat had a lot of experience with tough crowds. They gave lollipops to whomever they thought was doing all right and yellow cards to those who did not rise to the occasion. The two would also take back lollipops they give out if the person performed badly in other skits.

Shameless, forward and at times brusque, the two mime artists are really a delight to watch. They are masters when it comes to getting something from any type of audience.

If the first half of the show was all about interaction and having fun with the crowd, Gamarjobat's second half demonstrates their storytelling genius. Instead of short skits and gags, the duo focused on one major story – The Boxer.

The Boxer is Gamarjobat's version of the movie Rocky. More or less. Thing is, Rocky does not have a super-powered-finishing move which resembles Masked Rider or Ultraman changing transformation sequence. Hiropon played the character of the boxer while Ketch played everybody else – from the boxer's trainer to his nerdy girlfriend. Using his amazing speed in turning from one character to another, Ketch was also the boxer's many wacky opponents. He was a gay fighter, a hulking muscle-freak boxer and even a Michael Jackson impersonator-cum-prizefighter.

The story was simple – a boxer was down in the dumps when he finally fell for a girl. As their relationship grew, the boxer wanted to marry the girl but had no money. In comes the trainer who convinces the boxer to be a prizefighter. So they trained an fought with many opponents before he got to go for the title fight.

Told using their many ingenious and innovative skits and mime gags, the two brought the house down. The sequence when the boxer was fighting in slow motion was extremely good, complete with small details such as how bodies look when they fall in slow-mo. The training sequence was excellently done, where the two simulated speed by demonstrating a runner and a cyclist. The characterisation was also very good, with people immediately getting behind Hiropon's character of a working class nobody. Ketch, even with his limited stage time, also got a lot of people sympathising with the characters he portrayed, especially the boxer's girlfriend. The climax was the title bout which carried almost all the angst and soul of the original Rocky movie. That, plus some weird transformation sequences.

All in all, Gamarjobat is one of the funniest shows to have hit Malaysia in the past few years. The mime duo's spontaneous humour and dead-pan delivery worked wonderfully in a pretty much tight show.